This coming week, in events that get to your heart through your stomach.
Saturday, September 10
Summer may be in the rear-view mirror, but the season's essential picnic treat will be celebrated at the Pardeeville Watermelon Festival. The centerpiece of this 44th annual community festival is the U.S. Watermelon Speed-Eating and Seed Spitting Championships, with competitors across multiple categories trying to best their peers in time and distance, and perhaps even set a new record. Watermelon carving contests are also part of the program. It's not all competitive, though, as free slices will be served to all. A baked goods live auction, an open air market, live music, and children's activities round out the day. Chandler Park, Chandler Park Dr., Pardeeville, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free. Call 608-697-6744 for more info.
Competitive cooking is at the heart of Chilimania in Edgerton, one of two such showdowns in Wisconsin today. This 22th annual edition of the festival offers three general categories: the Wisconsin State Championship cook-off sanctioned by the Chili Appreciation Society International, an "anything goes" traditional chili cooking contest, and a salsa competition. A public tasting session follows judging, with the chef contestants serving samples of their creations. This bumper crop of chilis will be accompanied by food vendors and live music. Chilimania Grounds, Henry St., Edgerton, 11 a.m.-midnight, $6 adults and kids under 12 free. See Facebook and Twitter for more details, or call 608-884-3358 for more info.
Capsicum fanatics will find another dose of heat at the Wisconsin State Chili Cook Off Championship in Green Lake. Sanctioned by the International Chili Society, this annual contest offers a single general category of traditional red chili. A sampling session likewise follows judging in this competition, and the Green Lake Rotary Club will be selling a house chili and other menu items. The winner will go on for a chance to compete at the world championships in New Hampshire at the end of the month. Deacon Mills Park, 534 Mill St., Green Lake, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 800-253-7354 for more info.
The Thirsty Troll Brew Fest in Mount Horeb rounds out a lively month of beer tasting revelries in southern Wisconsin. More than two dozen regional brewers will serve some 150 beers at this ninth annual festival, including the final keg of Sesquicentennial Brew made by the Grumpy Troll brewpub to commemorate the 150th birthday of the western Dane County community. The fun also includes food vendors, live music, and photo opportunities with Jorgen the Thirsty Troll. Grundahl Park, 400 Blue Mound St., Mount Horeb, 1-5 p.m., $35 or $30 adv. Call 608-437-5914 for more info.
More events this week
Wednesday, September 7
Moving Bicycling Forward in Madison, a celebration hosted by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, featuring remarks by Mayor Paul Soglin and presentations by community leaders, followed by a free pizza social. U.S. Bank Building, 1 S. Pinckney St., 6 p.m., and Brink Lounge, 701 E. Washington Ave., 7:30 p.m., free. Call 251-4456 for more info.
CHEW meeting, a monthly gathering hosted by Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin, and featuring a talk by Janet Gilmore titled "Hot Peppers in Pasty Territory: Food Pluralism in Southwestern Wisconsin." Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., 7:15 p.m., free. Call 241-1574 for more info.
Friday, September 9
Wild West Days, the 54th annual community festival, featuring food and beer tents, a carnival, kickball and softball tournaments, truck and tractor pulls, a parade, live music, and more. Lions Park, 318 Park St., Mazomanie, 5-11:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Call 608-795-2100 for more info.
Fish fry fundraiser for the Rosenberry Society fund at the United Way of Dane County, with options of perch, cod, and walleye, and several New Glarus brews on tap. The Old Fashioned, 23 N. Pinckney St., multiple seatings between 5-9 p.m., $35. Call 310-4545 for more info.
Saturday, September 10
Sacred Hearts Fall Festival, an annual parish festival and fundraiser for Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Catholic Church in Sun Prairie, featuring a farmers' market and food court, a turkey and ham dinner with carry-outs, the Sweets 'n Treats bake sale, St. Anne's Craft & Raffle booth, the 13 annual Holy Cow 5K run and 2-mile walk, a raffle, bingo, live music, children's activities, and more. Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, 219-221 Columbus St., Sun Prairie, 7 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Call 837-7381 for more info.
Mad City Chicken Coop Tour, a self-guided tour of several backyard chicken coops around the city organized by Mad City Chickens and the Dane County Humane Society, followed by a screening of the documentary Mad City Chickens, along with a silent auction and prize drawing. Dane County Humane Society, 5132 Voges Rd., tours from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and screening at 1:30 p.m. Call 695-7914 for more info about the tour and view a map detailing locations on it, and call 838-0413 for more info about the screening.
Launch party, for the inaugural edition of the Wisconsin Local Foods Journal by Joan Peterson and Terese Allen, with a book signing by the authors and a cheese tasting. Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., 10 a.m.-noon. Call 233-5488 for more info.
Exploring Food in the Troy Kids' Garden class, with instructors Megan Cain and Elizabeth Gering of Community GroundWorks teaching children how to harvest food from a garden, as well as use a hand-cranked blender, solar oven, bicycle-powered grain mill, and other outdoor cooking tools. Troy Kids' Garden, 502 Troy Dr., 10 a.m.-12 p.m., $10 owners at the Willy Street Co-op and $20 all others. Call 251-6776 for more info.
License to Give, a celebration benefit in support of Helping Communities Help Children (4-C), featuring a wine tasting of local vintages, a car show, silent auction, salsa lessons, live music, and more. Agora Center, 5500 E. Cheryl Pkwy., Fitchburg, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $12 wine tasting. Call 271-9181 for more info.
Feed Kitchens Grill Out, an outdoor meal benefiting the Food Enterprise & Economic Development Kitchens incubator, with a menu focusing on seasonal fruits and vegetables. Willy Street Co-op West, 6825 University Ave., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., $5 per platter. Call 284-7800 for more info.
Pie workshop, a class co-hosted by the Blue Mounds Historical Society and the Mount Horeb Senior Center, covering how to make different pie crusts and fillings. West Blue Mounds Lutheran Church, 2962 Church St., Blue Mounds, 1-4 p.m., $15. Call 561-1832 for more info.
Edible & Useful Plants of Autumn walk, a nature tour hosted by the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve exploring how local plants can be found and harvested for food, medicine, and other uses. Picnic Point, parking lot on University Bay Drive, 3 p.m., free. Call 249-0409 for more info.
Sunday, September 11
Put it Up! Small Batch Preservation 101 class, with instructor Heather Buechler demonstrating how to use water-bath canning to preserve small batches of high-acid foods. Willy Street Co-op West, 6825 University Ave., 2-4 p.m., $15 owners and $25 all others. Call 284-7800 for more info.
Monday, September 12
Save the date
Wednesday, September 14
Key Club 30th anniversary reception, a celebration hosted by the United Way of Dane County, featuring cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St., 5-7 p.m. Call 245-8072 for more info.
Thursday, September 15
Two of a Kind, an annual fundraiser gala for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, featuring cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction, and live music. Edgewater Hotel, 666 Wisconsin Ave., 6-10 p.m., $50. Please RSVP by September 8, and call 661-4375 for more info.